President's Pen 11-21-16 (Fear No Man)

As missionaries in the Texas Houston South Mission, we know our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. We do this through our constant efforts to find, teach, invite, retain, and activate God’s children; we love it, we live it, and we do it! We begin with the “End in Mind”, and see God’s children as he does. We are Disciples of Jesus Christ and the best missionaries in the world!

 Elders & Sisters,

We love you!  Happy Thanksgiving and please know how grateful we are to each of you.  There is no better way to show our gratitude than to do all we can to further the cause of the Father and His Son by sharing the gospel with all and inviting them to come unto Christ. 

At our recent zone conference, I shared with you President Uchtdorf’s talk on “Fearing no Man”.  Like Peter, we can stand tall and overcome our fears as we recognize that the Savior is in the vineyard with us.  The remainder of President’s Uchtdorf’s talk focused on the experience of two missionaries, Elder Strong and Elder Green.  As you read the rest of his talk below, consider where you stand and how you might continue to build your faith to the point where you fear no man!

“To illustrate the potential and options for your missionaries and for you, let me share with you the experience of one missionary who seems to embody the fearless disciple we all want to be.

Three decades ago, a recently baptized member of the Church whom I will call Elder Strong accepted a call to serve as a missionary in Great Britain. When he left his home, his mother and father begged him not to serve a mission. Even though it broke his heart to see his parents so troubled, Elder Strong felt peace in his heart about his decision because he would be serving the Lord. From the moment Elder Strong stepped off the plane in England, he began putting his entire effort into serving the Lord. It didn’t take long before he began developing a reputation as one who was fearless. And he worked so hard that other missionaries started calling him the “workhorse,” because he would pull his companions with him each day.

This kind of dedication wasn’t all that easy on his companions. Let me mention one specific new missionary whom I will call Elder Green. Elder Green didn’t like Elder Strong’s style of missionary work. Elder Strong insisted that they get up early—even earlier than the handbook said—and as soon as they were out the door, they began speaking to people about the Church. When they walked to the center of a town to street contact, they stopped people in the open-air malls and everywhere. Elder Green was absolutely terrified and later wrote, “I had given half-hearted attempts. Nothing had come of it and I was becoming depressed, irritable, and downright discouraged.” Elder Strong, on the other hand, approached one person after another in his own special way and had many fruitful conversations. When asked how he was able to do this, Elder Strong said, “I fear no man.” He really seemed to have no fear at all.

Seeing that Elder Green had plenty of fear, Elder Strong one day asked him, “Elder, do you know who you are?” Elder Green considered this a typical Sunday School question and responded, “I am a child of God.” But Elder Strong smiled, opened his Book of Mormon to 3 Nephi 5:13, and read: “Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.” Then he looked at his junior companion and said, “Elder, you are a disciple of Christ! You fear no man!” Something in those words seemed to empower Elder Green, and he felt suddenly energized. He walked to the front door of a health club and watched a strong body builder coming out of the door. He decided to test out his newfound courage on this giant of a man. This is how he described the experience: “I stumbled through my dialogue and looked like an absolute rookie, then this man responded to the invitation to share a lesson with him with a surprising ‘yes.’” Over the next three weeks, this impressive investigator accepted the gospel and was baptized.

Still, Elder Green did not like this bold style of missionary work, and he argued with his companion about it continually. But Elder Strong kindly responded, “Elder, I fear no man, and that includes you. I will baptize with you or without you. I prefer with, but that is up to you.” And then he said something else: “The Lord tells us to be bold but not overbearing. Being overbearing is showing boldness without love. When people know and feel your love, you can never be too bold!”

One day Elder Green made a very insensitive comment about another religion. Elder Strong tried to talk to him about this, but Elder Green didn’t care for that inconvenient conversation. When the two missionaries finally arrived at home that night, the junior companion quickly jumped into bed, hoping his body language would signal the fact that he was not interested in talking. But Elder Strong came over to the side of his bed and said, “Elder, there are two reasons why missionaries get along as a companionship. Either they are working together as humble, obedient, and loving companionships or they get along because they are both doing the wrong things.” And then he added, “When missionaries don’t get along, when they fight and argue, it is often because one missionary wants to do what is right and the other doesn’t care.” He paused for a moment and then said, “We do not get along, so I ask you tonight; please tell me, are you trying to do what is right? Perhaps I am choosing what is wrong and I need to change.”

That was all he said. Elder Green felt the Spirit while his companion spoke. And, as the darkness of night surrounded him, tears came to his eyes. He had mocked Elder Strong for many of his methods, but he realized that night that he was the missionary who was not caring enough. Their conversation transformed him as a missionary. Elder Green said that the two months he spent with Elder Strong were eventually the most important and formative days of his mission experience.

Elder Strong believed that his responsibilities while serving as a missionary were quite simple. He was to listen to the Spirit and to find and speak to people. When he wasn’t finding or speaking to people, he was to try to find and speak to people. Preaching the gospel is all he desired to do. Elder Strong was never an assistant to the president. He was never a zone leader. But he trained many new missionaries. Training new missionaries is one of the most important leadership positions in the mission field. In the mission where these two missionaries served, missionaries averaged two or three baptisms over a period of two years. During the course of his mission, Elder Strong baptized many, many more. The number of baptisms is not always a sign of a good missionary. But Elder Strong’s example as a missionary is worth following because it teaches that we must work hard, depend upon the Lord, seek and follow the Spirit, have faith, be obedient, and fear no man.

The sign of a good missionary is also manifested in how one lives and honors gospel principles in the many years after the mission.  The fruits of a successful mission can be seen in the lives of our returned missionaries. It is how gospel values are applied as a husband or wife, as a father or mother, and as a son or daughter of Heavenly Father. It is “enduring joyfully” as disciples of Christ that will eventually show the success of a mission, long after the missionary badges have been retired.”

Elders & Sisters, I love this example as so wonderfully taught by President Uchtdorf, and it comes from the real experience of two missionaries who both eventually became the disciples of Christ they were called to be.  Our mission experience can be just as fruitful as Elder Strong as we learn to fear no man.  Choose today to serve without fear and recognize the power and authority you have been given.  We need missionaries who are devoted and consecrated, we need you to be one of them.  Your blessing and mine is to serve the Lord with all our heart, might, mind and strength.  There is only one way to serve a mission and that is the Lord’s way.  Let us all choose to do so!  Love ya!

Mission Update

 #LIGHTtheWORLD begins this Friday!  Please do all you can to share this wonderful message as we invite all to come unto Christ.  The Lord has prepared the heart and minds of the people and we are asked to open our mouths and invite all to hear the glad tidings of great joy.  This work is true and we love you!

President Hall